I think there’s a moment in some butch wives lives (boy, try saying that 5 times real fast – wives lives, wives lives, wives….oh, never mind) when one’s attempts at appropriate social decorum may come into question. I had one such moment the other night while investigating a loud noise in our yard. Our dog started barking in the middle of the night which woke me up. Not an unusual occurrence in our household, but a consistently loud one nonetheless. I got out of bed, opened the back door, and wandered onto the porch for a look around, closing the door behind me. As soon as I left the door space I felt it creep up my back and neck - the realization I had just locked myself out.
Now normally this is not a major issue. Planning ahead for contingencies, we have provisions for just such a situation because we have locked ourselves out several times in the past. But in this case, I was drowsy, half-naked and bare footed, and assumed I would have to come around the house and into the front door to get back in. Immediately the thought of going out the back gate with just my t-shirt on and a rather exposed bare bottom seemed, well, unseemly. My first steps were to check again and make sure I couldn’t break into my door, which, of course I couldn’t, but I had to try.
My mind started racing. The thought of someone seeing an older grey haired woman, bare bottomed and without shoes hopping and yelping along the side of a darkened house at 3 in the morning could be humiliating for a truly butch wife. Right? Could this situation be cause for losing my ‘Butch Wife Extraordinaire’ card for all time. What if a policeman caught me trying to get into my house? Would going to jail for breaking and entering really be a good idea while wearing only a t-shirt and no bottoms?
Therefore, I did the only thing I could under the circumstances. I turned on the dog and blamed him for closing the door in the first place! No actually I tried to find a place to sit and think about the best way to avoid the social humility of walking up our street half-naked. This turned out to be harder than one might think, since it gets foggy around here at night and finding a dry spot to sit on that avoids the possibility of splinters wasn’t easy. It’s not like pulling off a thoughtful pose like Rodin’s The Thinker or anything, but I was able to situate each cheek just so nothing got pinched or bruised on the only dry spot I could find.
Do real butch wives actually have these kinds of thoughts or issues I wondered. After all, we’ve all done something dumb like this, right? Anyway, the avoidance of public humiliation was achieved when I remembered I hadn’t locked the upstairs deck doors. Upon inspection sure enough I could get in without running half-naked through the neighborhood and felt safe and warm once my bare bottom was inside.
But the whole situation brought up a question for me in the end (no pun intended here). How do we learn shame? I saw a movie once where the parent asked his gay son, “When did I teach you shame?” when the son was reluctant to come out to his family. They knew he was gay and loved him anyway but somehow this son couldn’t accept it in himself.
Being caught in the cold with less than is generally accepted clothing on reminded me that shame IS taught. I like to think the use of ‘shameful’ is more directed at what one does perhaps rather than for who someone is. However, some think anyone who is not like themselves must at their very core be a ’shame to mankind.’ Can you imagine growing up with the knowledge that your family and those who are supposed to love you unconditionally think you are a ‘shame to mankind?’ Wow. Can’t say I know any one person with that much power to impact all of mankind, except maybe John Lennon. But that’s just me. I vote for the elimination of ‘shame’ from our social lexicon. What d’ya say?
Butch Wife Tip #17
Question: Do you realize how cold and wet outdoor furniture gets in the middle of the night? I do now, and caution all to check the targeted sitting apparatus with your hand before plopping down on it with a bare bottom after 1am in San Francisco. For those of you who simply MUST plan ahead, ensure your sleeping t-shirts are long enough to cover your butt when you sit down. Improper t-shirt length considerations could someday lead to handcuffed arrests for indecent exposure. I’m just saying…and if you ARE caught wearing less than you’d prefer, stand proud and tall with confidence, because you are okay just as you are. (You could try whistling but then that might not look good given the circumstances. )